Pictured: Elsie Gessling (far right) is pictured with other volunteers at the Society of St. Vincent De Paul. Volunteers include Cindy Cisneros, Adela Soliz, Celia Carrillo and back row, Margaret Brock and Elva Chavarria. Photo by OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

Gessling has given some 7,500 hours to St. Vincent de Paul

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Elsie Gessling, 89, has been helping families for 24 years as a volunteer at the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, giving about 7,500 hours of her time.

"No one is turned away empty-handed," Margaret Brock, a volunteer who has worked side-by-side with Gessling said. "She also tries to help in other ways, she counsels (the families) and gives them advice."

Throughout the 24 years of volunteering, Gessling has contributed about 7,500 hours to the community at St. Vincent alone. But she said it was time to let others take the reins.

"It doesn't seem that long," Gessling said. "Everybody works so hard and they enjoy it."

Brock said Gessling will leave a void no one would be able to fill.

"Yes, she's part of us," she said.

For more than two decades, Gessling gave of her time to the hundreds of families that needed an extra hand with food, clothing or household items from the organization. The Society of St. Vincent De Paul is stocked with canned goods, meat and juices thanks to local Catholics who give monetary donations during a second offering at Mass.

Another volunteer said she learned how the society mission runs through Gessling.

"What I learned, I learned from her," Celia Carrillo said. "She's a good teacher."

Gessling began her volunteer services at the Society of St. Vincent De Paul in 1984, when the organization was located on Seventh Street. She is a retired secretary for an oil company.

Besides volunteering at St. Vincent, she has been a former CCD coordinator for St. Elizabeth, member of the Altar Society, Parish Council and Alice Volunteer Services, where she helped with the Trash and Treasure program.

She began volunteering at the society once a week and then increased to three times a week.

Among her duties were assisting with the budgeting aspect of the organization and keeping up with the paperwork.

Gessling said the work she does is for the Lord.

"I remember what the Lord says, 'that what you do for the least brethen, you also do for Me.'"